A Place of Peace for a Frantic Mother
Patient Name : Cookie Bufkin
Sharon Bufkin, known to her friends as Cookie, had been calling her daughter Pam Jordan all morning. “Where is she?” she kept wondering as she tried her cell phone and home phone multiple times.
Pam took her two sons and niece to Wet & Wild on July 14, 2005, for a fun-filled day in the water before summer ended. She had been on the water ski team in college and worked as a lifeguard; she loved the water. She had anticipated the trip as much as her children had. She dropped them off at the entrance before parking the car.
“Everyone must have had the same idea,” she thought as she walked by what seemed like thousands of cars before she arrived at the entrance. By then, she was not feeling well. “Let’s start in the lazy river, I don’t feel well,” she said.
Jake, 8, and Alex, 9, played together under the waterfall while Pam floated in the water. She wanted to relax for just a minute. When Jake looked over to get his mother’s attention, he saw her floating face down in the water. He raced to her side thinking she was playing. As he rolled her over, he noticed her lips had turned blue and she had bubbles around her mouth. “HELP!” he cried loudly.
Jake and Alex stood dripping wet as they watched someone perform CPR on their mother until the ambulance arrived. The ambulance transported Pam quickly to the Emergency Department at nearby Dr. P. Phillips Hospital.
At 5:30 PM Cookie finally reached Pam’s husband. “Rob, I have been trying to reach Pam all day. I thought she may have come to visit you in Miami?” Rob’s voice filled with emotion as he explained that her daughter had been in a near-drowning incident at Wet & Wild earlier that day and she was in the Intensive Care Unit at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital on life support. “We will be there. I don’t know how, but we will be there,” she said through her tears.
All the commercial flights had already left Jackson, Mississippi, so a cousin arranged a flight for Cookie and her son on a six-seater plane to Orlando. The frantic twosome arrived at 1:30 AM emotionally spent. Once arriving at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, they were immediately escorted to the Perry Pavilion, a home-away-from-home for loved ones of patients. “When we walked into the Perry Pavilion, it was like walking into the Ritz Carlton. Everything was so nice,” Cookie remembers. She set her small bag on the bed and turned around. She wanted to see her daughter. She needed to see her.“The ICU staff was wonderful. Even at 1:30 in the morning, they let us in to see Pam,” she shares. The lights were low and the ICU quiet. As Cookie entered the room, she grabbed her son’s hand. She heard the beeps of the monitors and the whirl of the ventilator as it helped her daughter breathe. “It was frightening to see her with all the tubes,” she says. “But I felt a peace come over me. I knew she would recover.”
“I never even thought about getting a place to stay. I just assumed I would sleep on a chair in the waiting room. When my son-in-law told me he had reserved us a room I had no idea it would be as nice as it was,” she shares. Cookie, her son and her eldest daughter all shared a suite in the Perry Pavilion. “The Perry Pavilion had everything like just like home: a kitchen, a living room, breakfast every morning, internet access to keep those praying from Mississippi informed and laundry facilities.”
“The couple, who donated the money for this facility, had to have been through something like this,” Cookie assessed correctly. William and Cindy Perry had experienced similar difficulties when Cindy delivered their first son prematurely, in a place far from their home, fueling their passion to provide a sanctuary for others.
“We are blessed Pam is still with us,” Cookie shares. “I can’t say enough to express my gratitude to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital and the Perry Pavilion. They comforted us and helped us feel at home. It meant so much,” the grateful mother praises.
Within a week, Pam returned home. She has since returned to work teaching kindergarten. The exact cause of Pam’s collapse is still unknown, but doctors are closely monitoring her heart.